September 8, 2022

Columbia Business School Essay Tips: Essays 1 & 2

Columbia Business School’s first application deadline is coming up. Here are the important dates and Admitify’s guidance on Essays 1 and 2.



Early Decision


Regular Decision

Application Deadline

28 Sep 2022

28 Sep 2022

5 Apr 2023



Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)


Admitify Guidance

Columbia is unusual in that it separates its goals essay from its Why Our School? Essay. That means you have 500 words potentially to describe your goals. However, we don’t recommend that. Do be as concrete/specific as possible about your post MBA goals (job titles, org names, short-term Plan A and Plan B, long-term goal). State these goals at the beginning of the essay – up to half of the word count can focus on a description of your goals: long- and short-term, Plan A and Plan B (Columbia loves to hear about backup plans). But then use the rest of the essay to provide the ‘backstory’ — your personal account of where these goals come from. If possible, also devote space to brief highlights (in other words, share accomplishments or evidence of fast-track – none of Columbia’s remaining essays really ask you to share accomplishments).


Essay 2: We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams, co-curricular initiatives like the Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership, which aims to equip students with the skills and strategies necessary to lead in an inclusive and ethical manner, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program. 


Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? (300 words)


Admitify Guidance:

This is a classic Why Our School? essay, but much more directive in its guidance: it requires you to reflect on ‘why CBS’ from three angles: academic resources, cultural resources, and professional resources. Many applicants will divide their essay into three equal sections addressing traditional academic opportunities at Columbia, Columbia’s culture (which here can encompass everything from student clubs/activities and the school’s values, e.g., diversity and teamwork to perhaps even NYC as a melting-pot cultural capital, especially insofar as Columbia resources link to that aspect of NYC), and Columbia’s resources for your career.


Last year Columbia introduced the Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL). By referencing PPIL Columbia is signaling its institutional interest in DE&I, which is most relevant to the second cultural section of your essay. According to CBS the PPIL is a “…co-curricular program designed to ensure that every CBS student develops the skills to become an ethical and inclusive leader. Through PPIL, students attend programming focused on five essential diversity, equity, and inclusion skills: Creating an Inclusive Environment, Mitigating Bias, Communicating Across Identities, Addressing Systemic Inequity, and Managing Difficult Conversations.” We recommend that you talk briefly about your own D&I involvements (keeping in mind that diversity is a very broad term encompassing “work and life experiences, education, skills, interests, culture, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, where/how you grew up, and/or other factors” — to use language that Stanford GSB — another D&I focused school — uses). Name/discuss the  diversity resources and opportunities at Columbia that resonate with you most and propose specific ways in which you will get involved in or enhance those resources (e.g., a club linked to a passion of yours for which you will propose some new  approach or activity).


When writing the final ‘professional’ section of this essay, keep in mind that in the past Columbia has framed the Why Us? question in terms of NYC being the ‘very center of business’ and has steered applicants toward discussing its experiential and NYC-connected resources such as Immersion Seminars, master classes, practitioner faculty, etc. This year’s question, for example, references the Executives-in-Residence program. So maybe lean the essay toward the practical, hands-on side of Columbia resources —summer and in-term internships (which organizations will you pursue?), adjunct or practitioner faculty or visiting speakers that link with your goals, and any other career-related interfaces between Columbia and NYC as a career Mecca.


Check back next week for more tips on Columbia’s Essay 3 and the Optional Essay. Their first deadline is less than 3 weeks away – contact us now and speak with one of our expert coaches for help on your CBS essays!